In the early 21st century, nearly 3 billion people still lack reliable, affordable and sustainable access to modern energy services. They have to rely on various forms of solid fuel – animal dung, crop residues and waste, wood, coal and charcoal – to heat and light their homes and cook their food. Most of these people live in low- and middle income countries.
Women and young children are most at risk because of the amount of time they spend indoors. As the 2014 World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines for indoor air quality: household fuel combustion state, “clean air in and around the home is essential to a healthy life.”
Due to incomplete combustion, cooking fires and kerosene lighting produce black carbon, or soot, in the form of tiny particulate matter. These small particles penetrate deep into the lungs and have great potential to damage human health. Household air pollution causes over 4 million deaths per year, mainly through stroke, cardiovascular diseases, and lung cancer. Millions more fall ill and are unable to work causing loss of income and family hardship.